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NBA's coronavirus-created time warp has Heat talking playoffs during preseason

Ira Winderman, Sun Sentinel on

Published in Basketball

Well this is odd, being a just a week away from the start of the preseason ... and a mere month from the start of the playoffs.

The NBA resumption is nothing if not a time warp.

Against the backdrop of completing his team's third practice session at Disney World in the league's "bubble" setting amid the COVID-19 pandemic, coach Erik Spoelstra said Sunday that postseason preparations have already begun and actually had been ongoing even before Wednesday' arrival.

"Yeah, and we already have been doing a lot of that, you know, the last several weeks," Spoelstra said. "We've a lot of time on our hands. Our staff was able to watch film at home. And here we have a lot of extra time, as well. So we'll be able to continue to dive into those scenarios."

The NBA's timetable has the Heat opening their three-game preseason on July 22, then the eight-game resumption of their regular season on Aug. 1, with the playoffs to open Aug. 17. The Heat have already qualified for the postseason, with their 41-24 record.

Based on the standings, it appears highly likely that the Heat will open the postseason against the Indiana Pacers or Philadelphia 76ers in the best-of-seven first round, with an outside chance of opening with the Boston Celtics.

 

"It's not like that situation where there's a possibility of having six different possibilities," Spoelstra said, scenarios the Heat have faced during the final week of previous seasons. "It looks pretty clear, two or three."

Having already lost the season series to the Boston Celtics, the Heat stand three games behind in the loss column in that race for the No. 3 seed, with one game left against Boston. But even then, should the Heat push to No. 3, it still would leave the Pacers or 76ers as the likely first-round matchup, at No. 6.

Up two games on both Indiana and Philadelphia for No. 4, the only way the Heat would not play either of those two in a No. 4-vs.-No. 5 first-round series would be for Spoelstra's team to fall to No. 6, and therefore likely start the playoffs against Boston.

It has created the oddity of talking about playoffs -- yes, playoffs -- during training camp.

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